WHAT’S HAPPENING: Families reflect on loss week after Harvey
HOUSTON (AP) – A week after Harvey made landfall in Texas, families are having funerals for some of the storm’s victims and going back to their homes to see if those can be saved. A look at what’s happening:
The death toll from the storm has reached 42. Families who lost loved ones are remembering the victims during funerals and memorial services.
In Houston, relatives of 42-year-old Benito Juarez Cavazos, who was swept away by floodwaters left by Harvey, recalled his happy-go-lucky nature and generosity. He had come to Texas illegally from Mexico on his own as a young teen and was scheduled for an appointment toward getting permanent residency the day after he apparently drowned.
The funeral of 82-year-old Ola Mae Winfrey-Crooks was scheduled for Saturday. She drowned when her car was swept off a farm-to-market road at the San Jacinto River near her home north of Houston.
A memorial also was planned Saturday for 58-year-old Ruben Jordan, a former high-school football and track coach, who disappeared while driving during the storm.
Thousands of people who returned to their homes for the first time after evacuating arrived to find devastated structures. An estimated 156,000 dwellings in Harris County, or more than 10 percent of all structures in the county, were damaged by flooding, according to the flood control district.
Silvia Casas and her family were among those surveying the destruction Friday. Her neighborhood is near Crosby. Her house was one of the few structures that hadn’t been moved by floodwaters. But inside, a furniture pile and splintered belongings sat in the middle of the floor.
“We’re going to miss this place,” she said.
CLEANUP SAFETY TIPS
As residents start to clean up their flooded homes, health officials are hoping to use social media to spread a safety message: watch out for mold, gas leaks and downed power lines. Sharing advice on mold-cleaning strategies and other tips is among the biggest challenges for public health leaders in the aftermath of Harvey.
GROWTH VS. FLOOD-CONTROL PROJECTS
Developers have built over land meant for flood-control projects as Houston experiences explosive growth. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records dating back to the 1940s show the city was supposed to have a third flood-control reservoir, as well as a levee and canals to carry water.
Supporters of the development say Houston’s suburban sprawl helped make the fast-growing urban area affordable, while conservationists hope to see more reservoirs and flood-absorbing prairie restoration as the city recovers from Harvey.
“Houston is not known for its planning,” Evelyn Merz of the local Sierra Club said.
A flooded Houston-area chemical plant had its second fire in two days Friday .
Thick black smoke and towering orange flames shot up at the Arkema plant in Crosby after two trailers of highly unstable compounds blew up. Arkema executive Richard Rennard said six more containers are expected to eventually catch fire.
Floodwaters engulfed backup generators at the plant and knocked out the refrigeration necessary to keep the organic peroxides, used in such products as plastics and paints, from degrading and catching fire.
Residents in Harris County say meteorologist Jeff Lindner has been a hero for his frequent updates during Harvey and its flooding aftermath.
A Houston man, who says the Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist likely saved lives, set up a GoFundMe page to send Lindner on a vacation. He noted Lindner’s announcements of recommended and mandatory evacuations and updates about reservoir releases , breached levees and rising floodwater projections.
Lindner, as a Harris County employee, cannot take gifts worth more than $100 under county rules. He wrote on Twitter that he was “blown away” by the gesture. He says he was “doing his job.”
The campaign raised more than $13,000 in its first day from about 400 people, with some saying Lindner helped them evacuate and saved lives. The campaign’s host says he will donate the proceeds to flood relief at the meteorologist’s request.